1. What is sinusitis?
Sinusitis refers to an infection or inflammation involving the sinus chambers. Every person has 4 sets of sinuses on each side. The term acute sinusitis specifically refers to a bacterial infection of one or more of the sinuses. Chronic sinusitis refers to a condition of long standing inflammation of the sinuses.
2. What are the symptoms of a sinus infection?
A sinus infection usually happens after a common cold or viral process. The symptoms include localised facial or head pain, runny nose with the mucus secretions having a more coloured look to them. There may also be more generalized symptoms of not feeling well.
3. How is sinus infection diagnosed?
Sinus infections can be diagnosed clinically by examining the nose and seeing a purulent looking (coloured discharge) coming from one of the sinus openings. There may be tenderness on palpation of the forehead or cheek area. Sometimes it may be necessary to request a sinus x-ray to confirm the diagnoses.
4. How long do sinus infections last?
Acute sinusitis (bacterial infection) should not last more than two weeks if properly managed with medication, but can last up to one month. If symptoms last longer than 3 months, chronic sinusitis may be the cause.
5. How do you get rid of a sinus infection?
People may try to fight off their symptoms for several days using decongestant medication, analgesics, nasal saline washes and adequate hydration. However, if symptoms are severe or last more than 7 days, it would be wise to consult a physician and perhaps start on antibiotic treatment. It important not to use decongestant medication beyond 3-5 days because of the risk of creating a dependency.
6. What causes sinus infections?
A sinus infection or acute sinusitis is caused by a bacterial infection. These infective organisms are usually the common bugs that would affect either the sinuses or the upper respiratory tract. They may be similar to the bacteria that may cause pneumonia.
7. What is the fastest way to get rid of a sinus infection?
The most expeditious treatment for acute sinusitis would be to start symptomatic therapy such as oral decongestants, nasal saline irrigations, steam inhalation and adequate hydration. Antibiotics may be necessary in some cases.
8. What happens if you let a sinus infection go untreated?
In 9 out of 10 cases, sinus infections will eventually get better on their own, even without antibiotic treatment. Rarely, complications may occur with an acute sinusitis or subsequent to an inadequately treated sinusitis. Infection could spread to surrounding structures such as the eye or even into the brain. More generalized body spread could also concur if the bacteria progresses into the blood stream.